|John Cherubini was an important and admired yacht designer during the 1970s.
In 1938 he studied naval architecture with the Westlawn program, and then worked professionally as an aviation engineer.
Growing up and living near the Delaware River by Burlington N.J., he also spent a lot of time "messing around with boats." He and his brother Frit Cherubini had a small boat shop that built Sea Scamps, small outboard runabouts, in the late 1950s and early 1960's.
John started sketches for his "dream boat" sometime in the late 1940s. It would have traditional looks, inspired by the Chesapeake Bay bugeye. (Yachtsmen from Chesapeake waters have long been captivated by this image of a boat; Philip Rhodes designed two large ketches on this theme in 1928-29 for clients from that region.) Cherubini melded the bugeye theme with L. Francis Herreshoff famous 1938 Ticondaroga design.
While Cherubini's dream boat would have traditional looks, it would be a fast,
seaworthy, and modern. It would be narrow, low, and long on the water line, to cut easily through the water and reach high speeds quickly. A divided rig enabled a huge sail area for light winds and an easily reduced sail area in blows. In 1974, Henry Scheel patented his specially shaped keel, and John Cherubini included it in his dream boat. The Scheel Keel has a widened bottom which acts as an end plate and concentrates weight lower; it gives the performance to windward of a deep draft boat but permits gunkholing in Chesapeake Bay and the Bahamas. Cherubini's dream boat was gradually evolving from a dream to a real, detailed design.
John also raced small sailboats, in a fleet that included Warren Luhrs. At that time, the Luhrs family was well known for building wooden fishing boats. When Warren started Hunter Yachts in 1973, he asked his racing buddies who would be a good designer, and they suggested John. John Cherubini designed the first Hunter, the Hunter 25 in 1973.
He stayed as Hunter's primary architect in the first phase of the company. In addition to the Hunter 25, he also did the 27, 30, 33, 36, 37, and a hull for the 54.
Detailed information and photos of these Hunter boats are available at:
He also designed the Essex 26, a small, trailerable center cockpit boat with six berths, rigged as a sloop or ketch, built by the Essex company between 1972 and 1976.
He also designed the Raider 33, a very fast, comfortable boat. The Raider Company was set up by members of the Cherubini family. They built 29 Raider 33s during the 1977-83 period.
In 1980, he designed 48 foot center cockpit ketch with a huge aft stateroom. It was built by Clay Talbot in New Orleans. Only one of these boat was built.
Custom 48 foot mid cockpit ketch
His boats were prized by their owners for the balance of looks, seaworthiness, comfort, and speed.
In 1977, he branched into power boats and designed the Mainship 34 (and later the Mainship 40) for Silverton (a Luhrs subsidiary). These boats were distinctive at the time because were comfortable cruisers with a reasonable turn of speed -- not the heavy, slow trawlers, not the high speed express-type boats. (See Dan Spurr, Heart of Glass, p. 304)
Throughout this time, John Cherubini kept sketching his own, personal dream boat and chatting with his brother Frit, with whom he had been building small boats. In 1975 they finalized on the plan for the Cherubini 44 and started to build. The first Cherubini 44, White Hawk, was launched in 1977.
The first Cherubini 48, Victoria, was launched in 1983.
(previously Robert Emmett),
John never stopped dreaming and sketching. There are plans for a Cherubini 60, which has not been built yet. More information on these dream boats is available at:
Read this article from Cruising World (1980) about John Cherubini
John's son (named John Cherubini II) is collecting information on his father and his yacht designs. He can be contacted at: cherubiniand"at"aol.com.
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